The average human tongue is 4 inches long. Approximately one-third of this length is located at the back of the throat and is attached to the hyoid bone. This part of the tongue is called the posterior section. The rest of the tongue at the front of the mouth is called the anterior tongue area.
The tongue is a muscle that is responsible for the human perception of taste. Between 3,000 to 10,000 taste buds are located on the surface of the tongue, connecting to the brain through nerve endings. These taste buds help a person distinguish between salty, bitter, sour, savory and sweet tastes.
The tongue is also necessary for speech. Manipulation of the tongue changes the way sounds come out of the mouth. The tongue is anchored to the bottom of the mouth by a string of tissue called the lingual frenum. Some children are born with a shortened lingual frenum. This condition is called ankyloglossia, or tongue-tie. A shortened lingual frenum can cause difficulty in eating and can become a speech impediment. The condition may correct itself over time. If this does not occur, a frenectomy can be performed. A frenectomy severs a portion of the lingual frenum and releases the tongue to enable a wider range of movement.